Bio 5-6 Fetal Pig Dissection



Bio 5-6 Fetal Pig Dissection
Bio 5-6
Great Falls High School
Honors Human Biology 5-6
Pig Dissection
Student Name
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Fetal Pig Dissection
External Fetal Pig Anatomy
Fetal pigs are readily available, since farmers find it profitable to breed female pigs which they plan to sell.
Thus pig fetuses are byproducts of the slaughter houses. The period of gestation is 112 to 115 days, and there
are, on the average, about seven to eight offspring in a litter. At birth the pigs vary from 12 to 14 inches in
length. The approximate age of the fetus can be determined by measuring the length of the body from the tip
of the snout to the rump (not including the tail). The following are approximate body length to age relationships:
Gestation Table
Body Length in cm
Gestation Time in Days
As a laboratory animal the fetal pig has a number of advantages. It is relatively inexpensive so that usually a
maximum of two students can be assigned to an animal. Since they are small, they do not require much storage
space. The animals are mammals and, therefore, their structures are similar to those of humans. In addition to
relatively mature organs, there are also fetal structures present that are directly comparable to those of human
beings. These include the umbilical cord and the circulatory structures which are specialized for fetal
As the fetal pig is dissected and studied, the structures identified should be compared with those of the human.
Dissection is not merely ‘‘cutting” the animal, but a systematic technique of bringing into view structures which, in
their normal position, cannot readily be seen. Follow instructions exactly. Do not cut or remove any structure
unless directed to do so. Always separate structures carefully, especially blood vessels, by moving connective
tissues out of the way. It is best to use the dull probe for this task.
You may find that the substances used to preserve the specimens are irritating to your skin. If so, wear thin
vinyl or plastic gloves. Remove as much of the preservative from your specimen as possible by frequently
washing it with tap water. Keep your fingers away from your eyes during dissection.
At the conclusion of each laboratory period, clean up the working area thoroughly. Put the pig in the container
provided by your teacher. To identify your pig, you should attach an earring that is unique, making it easy for
you to find your pig each time a dissection is made. Do not leave any solid material in the sink. Clean and dry
the laboratory table and the dissection tools that were assigned to you.
The terms right and left always refer to the pig’s right and left. In a quadruped, anterior or cranial refers to
the head end; posterior or caudal to the tail end; dorsal or superior to the back; ventral or inferior to the
belly. Lateral refers to the side, medial to the position of a structure nearer the midline of the body.
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1. Examine the pig for body hair, although this is usually not conspicuous at this time. Is body hair present?
- Look under the chin for some longer hairs.
2. Note the epitrichium, the layer of embryonic skin that is visibly peeling. This is lost as the hair develops. It
may be removed by rinsing the pig in tap water. Use a sink with a disposal, if possible. The fetal skin will
easily plug a sink; and care should be taken to prevent this.
3. On the head locate the following structures:
a. The mouth, bounded by upper and lower jaws and soft lips, is sometimes partially open, revealing a
soft tongue. The front end of the head is prolonged into a snout. The snout is used for rooting
around in the soil for roots, insects, and other materials used by the pig for food. Do you have a
b. Observe the two nostrils (external nares) at the end of the snout.
c. The eyes (usually closed) are covered by upper and lower eyelids fringed with eyelashes. Use a
probe and pull the upper eyelids apart. The nictitating membrane should be visible in the medial
corner of the eye. This transparent membrane, which is referred to as a third eyelid, can move
across the eyeball with the eye open, thus providing protection. Check your partner’s eye for this
structure. Is it present?
d. The opening into the ear is called the external acoustic (auditory) meatus and the flattened flap
of skin is called the pinna, or auricle. The pinna and the external acoustic meatus make up the
external ear in the pig as well as in the human.
4. Note that the short neck joins the thorax in front of the first pair of legs. There is usually an incision in the
right lateral part of the neck where the blood was withdrawn and colored latex was injected. The arteries
should be represented with a red latex and while the veins were filled with a blue latex rubber.
5. The trunk can be divided approximately into two general regions, consisting of an anterior thorax and a
posterior portion, the abdomen.
a. Note that the front limbs are attached to the thorax. The ribs making up the thorax are soft at this
stage of development because they are made of cartilage.
b. Locate the mammae which are present in both sexes. These form a double row of small teats or
mammary papillae on the ventral surface of the abdomen. The number and location of the
mammary glands vary in different species but the glands are one of the distinguishing
characteristics of all mammals.
c. Observe the umbilical cord near the center of the ventral surface of the abdomen. If the cord is
long enough, make a fresh cut across the end of it. Three large blood vessels should now be
visible. The largest of these is the umbilical vein which carries blood from the placenta to the fetal
pig. This vessel may contain blue latex. The other two, smaller and with thicker walls, are the
umbilical arteries, which may contain red latex. These vessels carry blood from the fetus to the
placenta. Between or near the umbilical arteries; is a small, hard core of tissue called the allantoic
stalk. All the structures present in the cord are embedded in a gelatinous connective tissue. Look
up the function of the placenta and record its purpose below. Do all mammals develop from a
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d. Locate the anus just ventral to the tail. This is the posterior opening of the digestive tract. The
anus is a sphincter muscle. Describe a sphincter muscle.
e. Determine the sex of your fetal pig. In the female, the external urogenital opening, with a small
genital papilla projecting from it, is ventral to the anus. This is the common opening of the urinary
and reproductive tracts. In the male the external urogenital opening is a very small hole just
posterior to the umbilical cord at the tip of the penis. If your specimen is a male, note the two
scrotal sacs below and ventral to the anus. The penis lies under the skin, passing from the urogenital
opening posteriorly between the hind legs. Each student is expected to identify the sexual organs in
both sexes. Compare your fetal pig with that of the opposite sex. Is your pig a male or female?
What structure was present that helped you identify its gender?
6. Note that there are only four toes or digits on each limb as compared to five in humans.
7. Examine the legs and note that they have the same general structure as that of humans and other animals,
although they are somewhat modified.
a. Examine the posterior surface of one of the hind legs and note the large protuberance about two
inches above the toes. This is comparable to the human heel, and the region from it to the toes
corresponds to the human foot. Since the pig walks on the tips of the toes, the ankle and most of
the foot is above the ground.
b. Locate the wrist and elbow of the forelimb and the knee and ankle of the hind limb.
8. Use a piece of string to measure the length of your pig. Stretch the string along its back from the base of
its tail to the tip of its nose. Make your measurement in centimeters. How many centimeters is it? Use the
data from the Gestation Table and build a line graph on the graph paper at the end of this lab. From the
slope of your plotted points, determine the age of your pig in terms of gestation. How many days was your
pig in gestation?
9. Place a distinctive earring on your pig so that you will be able to find it easily amongst the others. Most of
the fetal pigs will look similar and it will be hard to identify yours. Once pinned, you may now return the pig
to its designated container. Wash your hands and clean up the area. Dissecting tools should be cleaned,
dried off, and returned to their proper spot.
Figure 1 - External View of a Female Fetal Pig
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Graph Paper to Determine the Age of the Fetal Pig
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Fetal Pig Dissection
Muscle Dissection - Gastrocnemius Muscle
In this lab you are to locate and draw the gastrocnemius muscle of the pig. In man this is the large calf
muscle which terminates in the large Achilles tendon. This tendon then inserts on the heel bone. In the pig
the same thing occurs, however, you must be careful when locating the femur, the tibia, the fibula, and the
calf muscle area on a pig. The gastrocnemius is covered by a thin sheet of muscle, the biceps femoris.
Directions for the Dissection
1. Work on the left side of the animal. Preserve the right side for circulatory and nervous system dissection.
Skin the left leg. Cut carefully through the skin. Make a circle cut around the upper leg where it blends into
the trunk of the body. The cut should be about a one to two mm in depth. Cut from the top of the circle
downward towards the foot. Now you should be able to remove the skin from the leg.
2. Clear away any fascia which covers the muscles of the shank. Fascia will appear solid sheet-like (no
fibers) and will be from clear to white in color.
3. Refer to Figure 1 Lateral View of the Leg. Notice the biceps femoris covers the origin of the gastrocnemius.
The biceps femoris should be removed carefully. The key to success is that muscle tissue is fibrous and the
direction the fibers run helps in identifying the muscle. Biceps femoris run obliquely; gastrocnemius fibers
run parallel to the bone.
4. The gastrocnemius originates on the lower end of the femur. It inserts by the Achilles tendon on the
calcaneus, the heel bone. This muscle extends the foot.
5. Isolate the muscle at the origin and insertion, include the tendon. Have your dissection okayed at this point.
The only muscle fiber that can be cut is the biceps femoris. A good dissection will reveal a major nerve
trunk running through the muscle in it’s upper one-third.
6. Make a drawing of the lower leg showing the foot, knee, and upper leg. Label the following parts in your
drawing: body of the muscle, origin and insertion points of the gastrocnemius, Achilles tendon, femur,
calcaneus, and nerve.
Figure 1 Lateral View
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Analysis and Conclusion
Make a drawing of your dissection and label the parts.
2. Describe the difference between muscle and tendon as to function and structure. Include a visual
description of the differences between size, color, and texture of each.
3. Is the gastrocnemius muscle considered a flexor or extensor? Explain your answer.
4. What can a person who has just broken his or her Achilles tendon not do? Why is this so?
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Fetal Pig Dissection
Respiratory System Dissection
Make a median longitudinal incision through the muscles in the neck in order to expose the larynx and
trachea. Do not sever the blood vessels or nerves located on either side of the trachea. Use Figures 1
and 2 as a guide for identification of these structures.
a. The trachea contains rings of cartilage in its walls. Determine whether these rings are complete on
the dorsal surface of the trachea.
b. Remove muscular tissue from the larynx. Make a longitudinal incision through the ventral wall of the
larynx and locate the vocal folds, which are two small, shelf-like membranes. These are poorly
developed in the fetal pig.
c. Locate the hyoid bone anterior to the larynx.
d. The sublingual and submandibular glands are now visible adjacent to the larynx.
2. Identify the thymus gland. the large gland ventral to the heart. This gland consists of two major lobes
which extend anteriorly into the neck region on either side of the trachea. The thymus is relatively large in
the fetus.
3. The ventral neck muscles and the cervical part of the thymus gland cover the thyroid gland, the small,
dark gland which lies on the upper trachea. Part the muscles and thymus gland to expose this gland.
4. Observe the large right and left common carotid arteries and the internal jugular veins on each side
of the trachea.
5. The vagus nerve is the conspicuous white band that is bound to the dorsal surface of the common carotid
artery. This nerve connects many of the thoracic and abdominal organs as part of the autonomic nervous
6. Free the trachea, laterally, from the preceding blood vessels and nerves. Lying along the trachea, and
attached to it, are the two slender inferior laryngeal nerves. These nerves which are essential for speech in
humans originate from the vagus nerve and, although they are small and delicate, are easily seen against
the trachea on either side.
7. Locate the esophagus, the muscular tube dorsal to the trachea.
8. Examine the interior of the thoracic cavity.
Note that the thoracic cavity is divided into two lateral pleural cavities. which contain the lungs.
The pericardial sac, which contains the heart. is located in the space (mediastinum) between the
The pleura is a double layered membrane which lines the thorax. That portion of the pleura lining
the thoracic wall is called the parietal pleura; that which covers and adheres to the lungs is called
the visceral pleura.
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The pericardium, the membrane surrounding the heart, is also composed of two layers: the outer
parietal layer and the inner visceral attached to the heart. Much of the parietal pleura forming the
medial walls of the pleural cavities is tightly bound to the parietal pericardium.
Figure 1 Superficial View of the Thoracic Cavity with the Neck Dissected
9. Remove thymus tissue in the thoracic cavity in order to study the lungs.
Note that the lung is attached to other structures in the thorax only by the root. The root of the
lung is formed by the bronchus, pulmonary artery and vein, bronchial arteries and veins, nerves,
lymphatic vessels, and bronchial lymph nodes, all encircled by pleura.
Determine the number of lobes in each lung. Each lung is divided into three major lobes: apical,
cardiac, and diaphragmatic. The right lung has an intermediate lobe beneath the apex of the
Cut off a small section of the left lung, and note the density of the lung. The lungs have not yet
filled with air, since they are nonfunctional before birth.
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Figure 2 Dissection of the Organs of the Thoracic Cavity of the Fetal Pig
10. The trachea branches into a right and left bronchus dorsal to the heart. In order to locate the right
bronchus, push the heart to the left side of the thoracic cavity; then locate the inferior end of the trachea
dorsal to the heart and right pulmonary blood vessels. Try not to sever the pulmonary blood vessels.
Locate the apical bronchus which leaves the trachea anterior to its termination and supplies the right apical
lobe. Note the right main (primary) bronchus which supplies the right cardiac and diaphragmatic lobes, and
the small branch of the bronchus which supplies the intermediate lobe. Then scrape away the right cardiac
lobe of the lung, bit by bit, noting the organization of the bronchial tree and blood vessels and locate a
primary bronchus. Leave the vessels intact. The branches of the bronchi can be identified by the cartilage
in the walls.
11. Locate the phrenic nerve. It is the conspicuous white line that passes along the pericardium to the
diaphragm on either the right or left side of the heart.
12. Lift up the left lung and remove some of the parietal pleura dorsal to the lung to locate the esophagus.
Follow the esophagus to the diaphragm.
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Fetal Pig Dissection
Digestive System Dissection
Background Information
The digestive organs of the fetal pig are very similar to those of the human. Observe carefully the
difference between the two organisms, such as the arrangement of the colon, and the absence of both the
vermiform appendix and the uvula in the pig.
Be prepared to trace the path of food through the digestive tract. You should completely expose and know
the location of all structures highlighted in bold.
I. Dissection of the Salivary Glands
As in the human, there are three pairs of salivary glands in the pig. However, the size and shape is variable
in the fetal pig, making dissection and accurate identification difficult. Use Figure 1 as a guide for the
following dissection of the salivary glands.
2. Carefully remove the skin from the left side of the head and neck as shown in Figure 1. When removing the
skin, you must cut deeply enough to remove the facial muscles that attach to the skin in this region, but be
careful not to cut into the salivary glands. Muscle tissue can be recognized by the small, parallel bundles of
muscle fibers that can be seen when the connective tissue is carefully picked off; glandular tissue has a
different texture, consisting of little nodules of tissue clustered in bunches.
3. The parotid gland is a large, thin, light-colored, triangular gland which usually extends from the base of
the ear to the shoulder. It is underdeveloped in the fetal pig and may not be easily visible.
4. Stensen’s duct, the thin, white duct of the parotid gland, is located along the posterior border of the
masseter muscle, the large muscle anterior to the parotid gland covering the angle of the lower jaw. The
duct opens into the oral cavity by the fourth upper premolar. It may be necessary to dissect away some of
the parotid gland to locate this duct.
5. The submandibular gland lies deep beneath the parotid gland. To locate this gland, make a shallow
incision through the parotid gland at the level of the inferior border of the masseter muscle. Reflect the
lower portion of the parotid gland. The submandibular gland should now be visible.
6. The sublingual gland is located anterior to the inferior border of the submandibular gland. A small lymph
node may be located by separating the dorsal anterior border of the parotid gland from the masseter
7. The combined secretions of all these glands are the saliva, a complex solution containing a mixture of
amylase that initiates the breakdown of complex carbohydrates such as starch, and both water and mucus
that help lubricate the food and facilitate swallowing.
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Figure 1 Dissection of the Salivary Glands
II. Dissection of the Mouth or Oral Cavity
Expose the organs of the mouth and pharynx by inserting a pair of scissors in the angle of the lips on the
side not previously dissected and cutting toward the ear. Open the mouth, and as you do so, make the
incision follow the curvature of the tongue. Do not cut into the roof of the mouth. Continue the incision until
you see a little flap of tissue, the epiglottis, extending dorsally to the free border of the soft palate.
Carefully pull this down and continue your incision dorsal to it and on into the esophagus. The floor of the
mouth and pharynx can now be swung open.
2. Locate the vestibule, the space between the lips and the teeth, and the oral cavity, the principal cavity inside
the mouth.
3. Certain teeth may have emerged through the gums; others may form bulges beneath the gums. If teeth are
not visible, cut into the jaw and expose them. A mammal’s teeth, in addition to helping the animal obtain
food, play an important role in the mechanical breakdown of food.
4. The tongue helps manipulate the food, pushing it between the teeth, mixing it with saliva, rolling it up into a
ball, and pushing it back into the pharynx. The surface of the tongue contains numerous papillae. Taste
buds are associated with the papillae.
5. Observe the bony ridged hard palate and the muscular soft palate, posterior to the hard palate. The pig
lacks the uvula, which is the posterior extension of the soft palate in humans.
6. The pharynx is divided into three regions: the nasopharynx behind the nose, the oropharynx behind the
mouth, and the laryngeal pharynx opening into the larynx. The larynx is also known as the voice box in
humans. You will explore the larynx in greater detail when dissecting the respiratory system.
7. Locate the opening of the pharynx into the esophagus dorsal to the larynx.
8. Locate the glottis, the opening into the larynx. The epiglottis can be seen as a small tongue-like flap at the
entrance to the larynx.
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Figure 2 The Oral Cavity
III. Opening the Body Cavity
Lay the pig ventral surface up on the dissecting pan. To spread the legs of the specimen, use large rubber
bands attached to the front legs of your specimen. Stretch the rubber bands underneath the pan. You may
have to use more than one rubber band depending on the size of the pig and the length of the rubber
bands. Use the same setup to spread the hind legs. At the end of each period of dissection, the rubber
bands should be wrapped around the fetal pig’s body, eliminating the process of finding more rubber bands
to hold the pig down on the dissecting tray.
2. Expose the organs in the abdominal cavity by making the incisions through the body wall as shown in Figure
3. Arrows indicate the directions in which they should be made. First trace each incision by making a
shallow cut with a scalpel through the skin, then continue the cut through the rest of the body wall with a
pair of scissors. Lift the body wall toward you as you do this to avoid cutting internal organs.
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Figure 3 Initial Incisions to Open the Body Cavity
3. Make a pair of cuts (incision 1) from just in front of the umbilical cord and extend them posteriorly to the
mammary papillae (nipples). The midventral strip of tissue lying between this pair of incisions contains the
umbilical arteries (injected with red latex), urinary bladder (the large sac situated between the two umbilical
arteries), and, in the male, the penis. This strip of tissue can be turned back by cutting the umbilical vein
that extends cranially from the umbilical cord to the liver. Cut the vein near the umbilical cord, leaving a long
stump attached to the liver. You will need to find this vein again later.
4. Make a short cut (incision 2) that extends cranially from the umbilical cord to the posterior end of the
sternum (breastbone), which you can feel. Look into the abdominal cavity and notice the muscular
diaphragm that forms a border between the abdominal and thoracic cavities.
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5. Make lateral incisions through the body wall (incision 3) just posterior to the attachment of the diaphragm,
which you can feel with your fingers. These cuts should follow the attachment of the diaphragm all the way
to the back muscles. You should now have the abdominal cavity exposed. If the body cavity is filled with a
dark fluid, flush it out with water; be careful not to damage any organs.
6. Use Figures 4 and 5 to assist you in locating the following organs:
Locate the large, reddish-brown colored liver, posterior to the diaphragm. Note that the superior
surface of the liver is convex to match the concavity of the diaphragm. The liver produces bile,
which is emptied into the duodenum and serves to break up fats.
Count the number of lobes in the liver. The pig liver is divided into five lobes: the right lateral, right
central, left central, left lateral, and a small caudate lobe. The caudate lobe is posterior to the right
lateral lobe.
Lift up the right lobe of the liver and locate the gall bladder, the small, pear-shaped sac
embedded in the right central lobe. The gall bladder stores bile produced by the liver.
d. The umbilical vein can be found entering the liver to the left of the gall bladder.
The cystic duct from the gall bladder and the hepatic duct from the liver unite to form the
common bile duct which empties into the duodenum (see Figure 5). In order to locate these
structures, gently tease away the connective tissue between the stomach and the liver. First locate
the cystic duct from the gall bladder and the common bile duct. The cystic duct may be stained
green due to the presence of bile. To locate the hepatic duct, trace the common bile duct upward to
the point where the cystic duct enters it. The duct branching to the left is the hepatic duct. It is
necessary to dissect carefully to avoid destroying these structures.
7. Lift up the liver to expose the stomach, the large, somewhat J-shaped organ located on the left side of the
abdominal cavity.
Locate the entrance of the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach is the sight of mechanical
digestion and, through actions by the enzyme pepsin, the initial site of protein digestion.
Identify the following regions of the stomach: the greater curvature, the side to which the spleen is
attached; the cardiac region where the esophagus joins the stomach; and the pyloric region, the
region opening into the duodenum.
Use a longitudinal incision from the cardiac region to the pyloric region to cut open the stomach. The
green debris found here and elsewhere in the digestive tract is called meconium. It consists of a
bile-stained mucus, epithelial cells sloughed off from the skin and lining of the digestive tract, and
amniotic fluid swallowed by the fetus. It is discharged in the first bowel movements of the newborn.
Wash the meconium out of the stomach.
Observe the gastric mucosa lining the stomach and the rugae, the longitudinal folds visible in the
interior of the stomach.
Locate the cardiac sphincter, a circular ring of smooth muscle surrounding the opening of the
esophagus into the stomach. Note that the sphincter is tightly closed. This sphincter allows food
into the stomach and prevents food from backing up into the esophagus.
Continue the same longitudinal incision through the pyloric sphincter. This sphincter valve keeps
food in the stomach until it is sufficiently broken down to be handled by the duodenum.
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8. Locate the small intestine beginning at the posterior end of the stomach. The small intestine is a long, coiled
tube, divided into three regions: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum.
The anterior curved portion of the small intestine leaving the stomach is the duodenum. This
portion is approximately 1 cm long. The common bile duct from the liver and gall bladder can be
seen entering the duodenum. Pancreatic enzymes enter the duodenum and serve as the primary
digestive agents in this site of most chemical digestion.
Open the duodenum by continuing the longitudinal incision through its wall from the pyloric sphincter,
on the side away from the opening of the common bile duct.
The two remaining portions of the small intestine, the jejunum and the ileum, are approximately
equal in length and have no readily distinguishable boundary. The jejunum is the middle portion of
the small intestine, and the ileum is the latter half that enters the large intestine. These two sections
of the intestine represent the location of the greatest amount of absorption by the digestive tract.
Cut open a section of the small intestine and observe the velvet-like texture of the interior of the
small intestine. This texture is due to small finger-like projections called villi that greatly increase the
absorptive surface of the small intestine.
9. Locate the spleen the long, dark organ to the left of the stomach. It is attached to the greater curvature of
the stomach by means of the greater omentum, a specialized fold of the peritoneum. The spleen functions
in the destruction of worn out red blood cells and the production of some lymphocytes.
10. The pancreas lies in the angle between the curve of the stomach and the duodenum. The greater part of
the gland is located dorsal to the stomach. The pancreas secretes enzymes that act upon all major
categories of food (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids); it also contains endocrine patches
(the islets of Langerhans) that produce insulin and glucagon, hormones essential for normal glucose
metabolism. The pancreas is connected to the duodenum by the pancreatic duct. This duct is small and
need not be dissected out.
11. Locate the peritoneum, the double membrane lining the abdominal cavity.
a. The parietal layer of the peritoneum lines the body wall; the visceral layer covers the abdominal
Locate the mesentery, the double layer of the peritoneum extending from the dorsal wall of the
abdominal cavity to the small intestine. The mesentery contains blood vessels, lymph vessels and
nerves (see Figure 5). Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream by the mesentery and then sent
to the liver.
11. Unravel and string out the small and large intestines by carefully cutting the mesentery that hold the
intestines in a tight ball. Do not dissect out these organs and be as careful as possible. If successful, you
will find a continuous tube starting from the pyloric sphincter and ending at the rectum of the large intestine.
12. Trace the ileum to its point of attachment with the large intestine.
The ileum opens into the side of the colon, forming a blind pouch, the cecum, at the beginning of
the colon. The cecum contains bacteria that serve to break down much of the cellulose that is
present in the diet of herbivores. In man, the vermiform appendix is located inferior to the cecum.
This is not present in the pig.
Cut into the cecum, wash out the contents, and observe the ileocecal sphincter, which is found at
the entrance to the small intestine and prevents material in the colon from backing up into the small
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The first part of the large intestine in the fetal pig is called the spiral colon. It is visible as a
compact coiled mass on the left side of the abdominal cavity. This structure is characteristic of the
pig and is not found in humans.
The posterior portion of the large intestine is the rectum. Locate this structure passing from the
spiral colon as a straight tube into the pelvic region. The external opening of the rectum is the
13. At this point, make sure your teacher has seen your work. He will provide directions for cleanup.
Figure 4 Superficial View of the Digestive Organs of the Fetal Pig
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Figure 5 Digestive Organs with the Liver and Spleen Pulled Back
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Fetal Pig Dissection
Arteries, Veins, and the Heart Dissection
Background Information
The blood vessels of a fetal mammal, such as the pig, closely resemble those of the human adult.
Modifications for fetal life include a placental circulation, by way of the umbilical cord, and two devices to
bypass the lungs, since the lungs are not functional before birth. The arteries of the fetal pig have been
injected with red latex and the veins with blue latex.
You are to follow the steps listed below and find each structure that is in bold print. Do not go to the next
structure until you have successfully located the indicated bold term on your fetal pig.
2. If you cannot find a specific blood vessel, bring your pig to the instructor for help.
3. Learning the names of the blood vessels is much like learning a street map or a river map. You should
make a map of the vessels as you follow the numbered steps for the heart, venous and arterial systems.
Your teacher may provide you with a simplified drawing to help you find these blood vessels.
The Heart
Observe the pericardium surrounding the heart. After determining the structures to which it is attached,
remove the parietal layer of the pericardium. The visceral layer of the pericardium forms the epicardium of
the heart, the outermost layer of the heart.
2. Note that the apex of the heart is directed toward the left. The heart is tilted so that the greater part of
the right ventricle lies directly in front, along the ventral surface of the heart. The left ventricle forms the
apex of the heart.
3. The atria lie anterior to the ventricles. Each atrium has a conspicuous ear-like appendage called the
auricle on the ventral surface.
4. A groove, the coronary sulcus, separates the right atrium from the right ventricle. The anterior
longitudinal sulcus is the groove that separates the right ventricle from the left ventricle. Dorsal to this
sulcus is the interventricular septum. The coronary blood vessels are located in these grooves.
The Venous System
5. Observe the anterior vena cava, the large vessel entering the anterior part of the right atrium. (This vein is
called the superior vena cava in humans.) The anterior vena cava drains the head, neck, and arms.
6. Trace this vessel forward and note that it is formed by the union of the two brachiocephalic veins (see
Figure 1).
7. Trace the left brachiocephalic vein forward. This vein is formed by the union of the small left internal
jugular vein, which lies next to the left common carotid artery, the larger left external jugular vein, which lies
lateral to this, and the subclavian vein, which drains the arm. In humans the internal jugular is larger than
the external jugular.
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8. Trace the subclavian vein through the chest wall. In the axillary region this vein is known as the axillary
vein. On the arm it becomes the brachial vein. In order to follow the vein on the arm, slit the skin and
muscles on the ventral surface of the arm.
9. Locate the posterior vena cava posterior to the heart and trace it forward to the point where it drains into
the right atrium. This large vein, called the inferior vena cava in humans, drains the lower portion of the
Figure 1 Veins of the Thorax and Neck Region
10. Trace the inferior vena cava back through the diaphragm into the abdominal cavity, where it lies to the right
of the aorta. In order to see the vein and its tributaries, it will be necessary to dissect away the peritoneum.
11. The hepatic veins drain blood from the liver into the inferior vena cava. To locate these veins, gently
scrape away tissue of the liver. Several hepatic veins may be located in this manner. The umbilical vein
(carrying fresh oxygenated blood from the placenta) passes through the liver and connects with one of the
larger hepatic veins.
12. Locate the renal veins, which carry blood from the kidneys into the inferior vena cava.
13. Returning to the thoracic cavity, push the left lung toward the right side of the body. Locate the
hemiazygos vein which receives blood from the intercostal veins. The hemiazygos vein enters the dorsal
surface of the right atrium.
14. The other major veins will be dissected with the arteries.
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The Arterial System
15. Locate the pulmonary artery on the ventral surface of the heart. Trace it down to its origin in the right
ventricle; then follow it toward the lungs, noting that it branches into a right and left pulmonary artery (see
Figure 2).
16. At the point of branching of the pulmonary artery, the large ductus arteriosus passes anteriorly to
connect to the aorta. The ductus arteriosus is larger than either the right or left pulmonary artery. It
serves as a pathway for blood to bypass the fetal lungs and go directly into the systemic pathway via the
17. The aorta arises from the left ventricle. Locate this vessel dorsal and anterior to the pulmonary artery.
The first branches of the dorsal aorta are the small, right and left coronary arteries, which arise from the
base of the aorta. The left coronary artery is visible on the ventral surface of the heart in the anterior
longitudinal sulcus; the right coronary artery is in the coronary sulcus. The coronary arteries supply the
heart muscle with fresh, oxygenated blood and other needed nutrients. Even though blood constantly flows
through the inside of the heart, nutrients are not transferred to the heart muscle at this point but rather
from the heart’s own arterial vessels.
18. The dorsal aorta passes anteriorly for a short distance and then turns to the left. This region of the
aorta is called the aortic arch.
19. To enable you to see the arteries branching off the aortic arch, free the anterior vena cava from the arteries
20. The first branch off the aortic arch is the brachiocephalic artery. This artery gives rise to the right
subclavian artery and then the right and left common carotid arteries. If you place your finger tips
along the side of your trachea, you may feel your pulse. You are detecting the blood being pushed through
your carotid artery.
21. Trace the common carotids toward the head along each side of the trachea. These arteries branch to form
the external and internal carotid arteries at the anterior border of the larynx.
22. Returning to the aortic arch, locate the left subclavian artery, which supplies the left side of the chest and
the left arm. Locate the right and left internal mammary (sternal) arteries, which supply the pectoralis
muscles and mammary glands. These vessels arise from the subclavian arteries on either side of the
23. The subclavian artery becomes the axillary artery as it crosses the axillary space, and then the brachial
artery on the upper arm.
24. Pull the organs in the chest gently to the pig’s right to expose the dorsal aorta. As this vessel passes
through the thorax, it is called the thoracic aorta. Remove the pleural membranes to expose the aorta in the
25. Note the intercostal arteries emerging from the thoracic aorta. These supply the intercostal muscles.
26. Trace the descending aorta through the diaphragm. The first major branch from the abdominal aorta is the
celiac artery (see Figure 2). In order to locate this artery it will be necessary to scrape away the
peritoneum covering the anterior end of the abdominal aorta immediately beneath the diaphragm. This
large artery supplies the liver, pancreas, spleen, and duodenum.
27. Locate the mesenteric artery, the unpaired vessel located a short distance below the origin of the celiac
artery. This vessel supplies the small intestine and a portion of the large intestine.
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28. Locate the renal arteries (which supply the kidney) below the mesenteric artery.
29. The right and left genital arteries (testicular or ovarian) are small vessels that emerge from the ventral
surface of the aorta, below the renal arteries near the base of the aorta. If your specimen is a male, follow
the testicular artery to the inguinal canal.
30. The paired external iliac arteries arise from the base of the aorta. They continue downward on each side
to become the femoral artery. Locate this vessel and the femoral vein by teasing away the ventral thigh
muscles after removing the skin.
Figure 2 Major Arteries of the Fetal Pig (Heart Pulled to the right)
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31. Locate the internal iliac arteries below the point at which the external iliacs arise from the aorta. These
give rise to the large umbilical arteries, which pass lateral to the bladder.
32. The small median sacral artery can be seen emerging from the base of the aorta between the two internal
iliac arteries.
33. Locate the two common iliac veins, which unite to form the inferior vena cava. Each common iliac vein is
formed by the union of the internal and external iliac veins. These veins can be located next to the
corresponding artery.
Dissection of the Fetal Heart
To dissect the fetal heart, make an incision through the lateral wall of each atrium or auricle. Carefully
remove the latex that is present in each chamber.
2. Observe the point of entrance of the superior and inferior venae cavae into the right atrium.
3. Locate the foramen ovale (the opening in the interatrial septum) near the dorsal wall of the heart, just
anterior to the entrance of the inferior vena cava. At this time in fetal life, the opening is quite small. Pass a
probe through the foramen ovale (see Figure 3). Blood returning to the heart by way of the inferior vena
cava passes from the right atrium directly to the left atrium, bypassing the lungs. This structure closes
after birth, leaving the depression, the fossa ovalis.
4. Continue the lateral incision down on each side of the heart in order to examine the interior of the ventricles.
Try to locate the four one-way valves. Two are called the A-V valves and separate the atria from the
ventricles. The other two are found in the base of the pulmonary trunk and the aorta. They are called
semilunar valves and prevent blood from flowing back into the ventricles of the heart.
Figure 3 Longitudinal Section Through the Fetal Pig Heart
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Fetal Pig Dissection
Excretory System Dissection
Background Information
The organs in the urinary system of the fetal pig are very similar to those in the human. As you dissect the
organs, be prepared to trace the path of urine from its site of production to the point at which it passes to
the outside. The pig kidney will be sectioned in order to study its internal structure, since it provides a good
example of a typical mammalian kidney.
Observe the paired kidneys on the dorsal body wall of the pig. Use Figure 1 as a guide.
Figure 1 Urinary System of a Male Fetal Pig
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2. Remove the peritoneum, which covers only the ventral surface, from both of the kidneys. Since the kidneys
are separated from the abdominal organs by a layer of peritoneum, their location is described as being
3. Identify the renal artery and renal vein, which carry blood to and from the kidney. Which vessel carries the
cleansed blood?
4. Locate the adrenal gland, a narrow band immediately above each kidney.
5. Observe the ureter, the narrow, white convoluted tube which drains the urine from each kidney. Trace the
ureter from the hilum, the opening on the medial border of each kidney, to the urinary bladder, freeing it
from the peritoneum. The urinary bladder is attached to the reflected ventral strip of the abdominal wall.
6. Observe the umbilical arteries which lie lateral to the urinary bladder.
7. Locate the urethra, the duct which conducts urine from the posterior end of the bladder to the outside. The
remainder of the urethra will be freed when the reproductive system is dissected.
8. Remove one kidney. Make a longitudinal section through the kidney.
a. The renal capsule the thin layer of connective tissue around the outside of the kidney.
The renal cortex is the outer light brown layer of the kidney immediately beneath the capsule. This
layer contains most of the filtration units called nephrons. The loop of Henle will extend into the
renal medulla.
c. The next layer of the kidney, the renal medulla, contains the pyramids.
d. Locate the renal pelvis, the funnel-shaped expansion of the ureter. It is the hollow interior of the
9. Compare the preceding structures with the illustrations in Figures 2 and 3 of the human kidney.
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Figure 2 Longitudinal Section through the Kidney
Figure 3 Renal Blood Supply
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Fetal Pig Dissection
Reproductive System Dissection
Background Information
The reproductive organs of the fetal pig are similar to those of the human. Note, however, the difference in
the structure of the uterus of the female. Although you will dissect the reproductive system of only one sex,
you are responsible for that of both sexes. Therefore, carefully study the reproductive structures on a fetal
pig of the opposite sex.
Part 1. The Female Reproductive System
Use Figure 1 as a guide in your dissection. Identify the ovaries, a pair of small light-colored oval bodies
located posterior to the kidneys.
2. The uterine tubes (Fallopian tubes) are very small, highly convoluted tubes lying on the dorsal surface of
the ovaries. The expanded end of the Fallopian tube, which partially covers the ovary and picks up the
eggs from the ovary, is called the ostium.
3. Trace the Fallopian tube until reaching a larger tube next to each ovary. These tubes, the uterine horns or
horns of the uterus, are the beginning of the uterus. The eggs are carried through the Fallopian tubes to
the uterine horns where, if fertilized, they develop. The fetuses tend to be equally spaced throughout the
two horns.
4. The two horns unite in the midline to form the body of the uterus which lies dorsal to the urethra. The
broad ligament can be seen running laterally from the body of the uterus to the uterine horns.
5. To dissect the rest of the female reproductive system, the pelvic cavity must be exposed. Remove the skin
from the ventral pelvis and cut through the pelvic muscles and the pubic symphysis in the midventral line.
Cut with care since the urethra lies immediately beneath the pubic area.
6. Locate the urethra, the tube carrying urine from the urinary bladder.
7. Dorsal to the urethra, identify the vagina, the tube leading from the posterior end of the uterus.
8. Separate the urethra from the vagina. Toward the posterior end, the vagina and urethra unite to form a
common passage called the urogenital sinus or vulva which opens to the outside. An external genital
papilla is located on the external surface at the opening of the vulva.
9. The lateral boundaries of the urogenital sinus are folds called the labia. These unite ventrally to form the
genital papilla.
10. Locate the rectum, the continuation of the large intestine, dorsal to the vagina.
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Figure 1 Reproductive Organs of the Female Pig
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Part 2. The Male Reproductive System
Use Figure 2 to identify the male reproductive parts. Locate the scrotum, the sac visible under the skin
ventral to the anus. Early in fetal development the testes are located below the kidneys; however, they
migrate before birth through the inguinal canal into the scrotum.
2. Locate the inguinal canals, two openings in the abdominal wall, by tracing the internal testicular arteries
posteriorly until they pass through the canals.
3. To expose the remainder of the male reproductive organs, cut through the skin in the midventral line ventral
to the pubic symphysis. Cut through the scrotum carefully, to avoid damaging the structures contained
4. Using Figure 2 as a guide, locate both the left and right processus vaginalis, large white sacs on each
side which contain the testes. This structure is an evagination of the peritoneum that precedes the descent
of the testes and surrounds them.
5. Pass a probe from the abdominal cavity through the inguinal canal and note that this emerges inside the
processus vaginalis.
6. Cut open one of the sacs to expose the testis. The epididymis should be located along the medial side of
the testis. This begins at the cranial end of the testis and extends to its caudal end. Identify the
gubernaculum, the band of tissue which extends from the posterior end of the epididymis to the scrotal
wall. This helps pull the testis posteriorly from the body cavity, through the inguinal canal, and into the
scrotal sac.
7. The vas deferens carries the sperm from the epididymis through the inguinal canal to empty into the
urethra. Trace the vas deferens through the inguinal canal to the urethra, noting how it loops over the ureter
and enters the dorsal surface of the urethra.
8. Locate the penis, the long muscular tube lying just under the skin immediately posterior to the umbilical cord
and the urogenital opening in the midventral strip of the abdominal wall. Remove the overlying skin so that
the penis is exposed.
9. Now move the penis to one side of the midventral line and cut through the midventral portion of the pelvic
muscles and the pubic symphysis. Spread the legs apart to expose the pelvic cavity. The urethra should
now be visible emerging from the urinary bladder.
10. Separate the rectum from the urethra and trace both tubes to the outside.
11. Identify the large pair of bulbourethral or Cowper’s glands, each of which is located at one side of the
urethra near the anus.
12. Locate the seminal vesicles and prostate glands at the beginning of the urethra. They can be found on
the dorsal side of the urethra and ventrally to the rectum. These glands, along with the Cowper’s glands,
will produce seminal fluid that nourishes and protects the sperm cells.
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Figure 2 Ventral View of the Male Reproductive Organs of the Fetal Pig
This concludes your dissection of the fetal pig. You should now
review all major structures in preparation for a laboratory practical
exam covering all major structures of the fetal pig.
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